Gas prices level off after recent decline

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LAS VEGAS - Gas prices are plateauing across Nevada after an early summer slump at the pump. According to the latest report from AAA Nevada, which tracks fuel costs as a service to consumers, the average price in Nevada for regular unleaded gasoline is $3.54.

Last year at this time, the average price in Nevada was $2.93 a gallon. That means there has been a year-to-year increase of 61 cents. The national average price of $3.64 is down by 6 cents, which is 92 cents more than the national price on this date last year, when it was $2.72.

The highest gas price in Nevada's metro areas tracked by AAA is in Elko. The price there is $3.76 for regular unleaded, down 12 cents when compared to last month's report. Las Vegas has the Silver State's lowest pump price found in metro areas tracked by AAA. Drivers there are seeing an average price of $3.47 for regular unleaded, a 20-cent decrease from last month. 

"There has been huge volatility with crude oil prices recently, which is reflected in the gas prices that consumers are seeing at the pump," explained AAA Nevada spokesman Matt Skryja. "This recent jump in pump prices across many parts of Northern California comes as demand for gasoline rose over the last week. Prior to that, demand had dropped the last two weeks in June." 

Recently, investors have been spurred to buy more crude oil by a weak U.S. dollar and positive news about Greece's financial future. This helped to drive up the price of crude, with gas prices following. Because oil futures are traded in U.S. dollars, when the dollar weakens, investors, including those holding foreign currencies, get comparatively more oil for their money. This makes crude oil a more attractive investment, which puts pressure on prices to move higher. Additionally, positive economic news spurs investors to buy, as they see growing economic strength as an indication that demand will increase. On Friday, a reversal of this positive outlook started to take hold. Poor jobs numbers in the U.S. and economic concerns about Portugal and China helped to curb investors' buying activity and helped to put downward pressure on crude prices.

Nevada has the ninth-lowest average state price in the lower 48 states. Among the lower 48 states, the highest average state price reported by AAA was achieved by Connecticut, which reached an average price of $3.96. 

The least expensive gasoline in the country is found in Tucson, Ariz., where the average price of gas is $3.27. Wailuku, Hawaii, holds the dubious crown for the highest average price in the nation, at $4.37 per gallon. The highest price reported by AAA in the lower 48 states is in Eureka, Calif., where the average is $4.07.



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